For a growing percentage of the population, the Internet is basically three things: Email, Facebook, and Google. That is it. Inside that group of people, there even exists those that could not, under scrutiny, really explain the functions of the latter two outside of “searching” and probably some combination of FarmVille, photo-sharing, and being able to zip off little notes whenever they feel like it for dozens or even hundreds of people to get to read every day.
Thankfully, Facebook isn’t the Internet, as muck as Zuck & Co. would love for it to be so. Google is most definitely more than a search engine and also really, really, really wants to be the whole Internet itself as well. Problems arise, socially speaking, when those that exist in the Facebook/Google bubble and those in the rest of the Internet get too close to one another. Usually it is the first group encroaching on the second, because the second group treat that little blue and white “f” logo as an allergen.
So cool things get created by the second group, filter out and very possibly eventually hit some sort of mainstream popularity. This, by and large, infuriates those that got there first, even if the social aspect of a higher user base is nothing but a good thing for all involved. “If it is not my user base then get it the ______ out!” It’s way more than some sort of NIMBY mindset at work. It is an absolute disdain and overwhelming fear that “the Internet” will become “their Internet” and heavens if that isn’t a sign of the superhighway apocalypse.
I will add here that I do not honestly hate Facebook or Google. Hate is a strong emotion. In fact, I get some use out of both, though where things get sketchy is exactly how I use them compared to what is, ahem, “normal.” I am planning to write in the future about my experiences with the world of social media and the more Facebook-ish side of the Internet. For now I just want to focus on why my explanation of what the Internet is seems to be at odds with mainline cultural thought.
I see the Internet as a tool for expressive creation and innovation first and personal communication and networking second. That sort of explains my social media issues in a nutshell. I want my words heard, yes, but I do not insist that they be inside of a conversation nor do I expect any sort of reciprocation when my fingers let words out. I look outwardly to others for similar things. I read blogs, news sites, reference sites, and let my brain lead me to wherever it wishes to go. I can not fathom being confined to Facebook any more than some people could be bothered to try and figure out how to leave it outside of possibly YouTube and Wikipedia. I admit those can be useful tools when actively and truly surfing the web, as they used to say, but can actually be little more than outliers to those that came into the Internet age as little more than a “friend” and don’t mind keeping it that way.
There is nothing actually wrong with sticking to the blue bricked garden of Facebook, except to catch the peripheral sneers of someone that abandoned it long ago and cares as little about things like Zynga and “liking” things as those in the garden care that they are being openly mocked by people they will never meet, speak to, or run across in all their hours of clicking and scrolling, friending and liking, and “using the Internet,” whatever that means.